You’re through your GMAT with an expected score, and with that you’ve taken a firm step toward getting accepted to one or more MBA programs of choice.
And, then, while finalizing (sometimes at a later stage) the target schools, you’re surprised to find that you’re at a disadvantage or not even eligible to apply to a particular school because you don’t have a four-year undergraduate degree.
Few B-schools still require 16 (10+2+4) years of education as one of the eligibility criteria for their programs. However, many countries such as U.K., India, Pakistan, Australia, and New Zealand award several three-year non-engineering and non-medicine degrees, leaving those with only an undergraduate degree from such courses at a disadvantage when applying to these schools.
Though such schools are in significant minority now (they were more commonplace few years back), you still need to carefully check this particular eligibility criterion for the schools you are targeting.
Most schools today accept a three-year undergraduate degree as sufficient for fulfilling one of their eligibility criteria. Among MBA programs of repute, Haas, Columbia, and Yale seem to be the only exceptions who prefer a 4-year bachelor’s degree.
Applicants with a four-year bachelors [sic] degree from an Indian school are eligible for consideration. Applicants with a three-year Indian bachelor’s degree who also hold a master’s or other advanced degree are eligible for consideration. Applicants with a three-year Indian bachelors [sic] degree and no additional degree may apply, but are at a significant competitive disadvantage when compared to applicants with similar backgrounds and eligible education [emphasis added].
We accept applications from candidates with a three-year undergraduate degree. Those applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
And Yale SOM:
To apply to Yale SOM, an applicant must have a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. institution or the international equivalent. International applicants with a three-year degree from an accredited institution may apply. Typically, successful applicants whose degree was earned in fewer than 16 total years of education have completed an additional master’s degree as well, although it is not required.
What’s in it for you?
If you’ve only a three-year undergraduate degree, you need not worry, because you’ll still fulfill the undergraduate-eligibility criterion for most schools.
And if the school has preference for a four-year undergraduate degree like Haas and Tepper have, it’s better to skip that school than to get another degree just to meet its eligibility criterion or put yourself at a competitive disadvantage.
But do check the eligibility criteria of all the schools in your target list even though you are sure about them, as these criteria keep changing. And if the school is silent (it’s rare, as this is a commonly asked question) on this issue, feel free to shoot an email to the school seeking clarification in this regard.
To end, here is a quick, crude, though very effective way to search the three-year eligibility criterion of any (say, ABC) school:
Google ABC admissions.
On the admissions page, click on FAQ. In absence of FAQ section, click on Requirements, Application Materials, or similar page. (99% of the websites will have information on this criterion in some or the other form on this page.)
Once there, use Control + F and search three, undergraduate, degree, or bachelor (and not bachelor’s) in that order. In 90% of the cases, you’ll find the required information in the first Control + F itself.
A rare exception where this won’t work: if answers are hidden (which is sometimes the case in FAQ formats) and the questions don’t contain any of the search terms.